Independent telecommunications provider SkyWire Technologies, which traditionally has focused on the wholesale and business markets, is making its first foray into consumer broadband, announcing recently that it is offering high-speed wireless access to homes and small and medium enterprises in Hermanus, Caledon and Grabouw in the Western Cape.
The company’s directors expect that revenue from the retail consumer and SME markets will make up as much as 50% of its total revenue in the coming years as the company expands aggressively in this area.
SkyWire has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it provides backhaul services to licensed operators. A Durban office will be opened soon, too.
The business, which was founded about 10 years ago by partners Mondi Hattingh and Jaco Visagie, has since grown into an enterprise with 100 permanent employees. And it’s now starting to attract overtures from bigger industry players. Hattingh says SkyWire has had a number of approaches from potential buyers.
A close relationship with Telkom Wholesale allowed the business to grow in the early days. It secured access to key infrastructure and today has 18 000 high sites around the country that it can utilise to provide last-mile services and backhaul to corporate customers and other operators using microwave links and fibre-optic connections.
It also spent considerable time developing proprietary technology to maintain redundancy on its links. Such technology was not available on the cheaper telecoms equipment it was utilising in those days, explains Visagie.
It realised there was a big market in outlying areas, and now provides solutions to mines and other businesses in remote areas.
SkyWire has since expanded into providing voice services, with interconnection agreements with major operators in place.
It typically uses unlicensed spectrum to provide last-mile services to businesses (and now consumers), but is keen to participate in any future plans by communications regulator Icasa to license access to new spectrum bands.
“Most definitely,” says Visagie when asked if SkyWire will participate in the spectrum licensing process when it happens. “We will be a main player in it.”
Hermanus (and surrounds) is SkyWire’s first foray into the retail consumer market, says Hattingh. It will also target small and medium enterprises in the area, offering products such as voice, cloud services and remote backups.
The idea, says Visagie, is to secure access to fibre in each town the company intends expanding into and then to provide high-speed wireless Internet from a suitable high site using (for now) unlicensed spectrum bands.
“Wherever there is fibre, we can deploy quickly. We can compete head-on with last-mile fibre pricing, no problem,” adds Hattingh.
Indeed, the company says it can even provide services in areas that are set to get fibre to the home, providing wireless broadband as a stopgap measure until the fibre is in. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media